The unruly climax to Papua New Guinea's national elections continued this weekend, with a late afternoon court intervention delaying the return of writs and reports of election-related violence continuing to emerge.
On Friday, with only 80 of the 111 electorate seats declared, the electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato went to Government House to hand over the writs - a formality extended to the party with the most MPs-elect.
The People's National Congress of incumbent prime minister Peter O'Neill, which currently leads the vote count, was invited to attempt to form the next government, to the chagrin of opposition groupings who claim they have the numbers to form a government.
A former attorney general, Sir Arnold Amet, himself an unsuccessful candidate, said Mr Gamato's decision was an abuse of the law, labelling it "wrong and premature."
But the country's constitutional watchdog, the Ombudsman Commission, successfully obtained a court order to extend the deadline for the return of writs to Monday, giving those undeclared electorates more time.
The chief ombudsman, Michael Dick, said the sudden move was to reassure the electorates whose writs had not been returned that their members would be allowed to participate in the first sitting of parliament, scheduled for next Friday.
"To give them that opportunity and that right to participate to appoint the prime minister and the speaker," he said in an interview with EMTV.
Sir Arnold Amet said Mr Gamato should have gone to the court to seek the extension himself.
"The [Electoral Commission] has misapplied its responsibility and it was wrong and we the nation is pleased that the [Ombudsman Commission] took the initiative to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court," Sir Arnold said in a statement. .
The claims to govern will ultimately be tested when parliament meets for the first time on Friday, when after a week of camps and horse-trading to form a majority, parliamentarians will gather in Waigani to choose a prime minister.
Meanwhile, reports of election-related violence continued to emerge from several towns and provinces on Saturday.
In the latest unrest, the Southern Highlands town of Mendi was in lockdown following the declaration of results there.
RNZ International's correspondent in Mendi said angry supporters had blocked off sections of highway and attacked motorists, while other groups had attacked a nearby prison. One person was understood to have been killed.
Violence has also hit other towns in the Highlands, including the country's third-largest city, Mt Hagen, which has been in lockdown since Monday.